I hate to do this…but there is no Web Traffic Elf.
You came to terms with Santa Claus, and now you have to deal with this.
While posting this may seem like a banality to very many of you (a statement of the bleedin’ obvious, in Basil Fawlty’s terms), I do keep coming across people who believe that building a website for a new venture, and bringing it online, will result in it receiving visitors. By magic.
For anyone who has come lately to the world of web marketing, or anyone whose clients have come lately, here are four fundamental truths.
- The web is very big. It has a lot of websites. Google, in March of 2008, was indexing 4.28 billion web pages, so probably about 70 million sites.
- No-one who does not know about you and specifically go looking for you is going to find your site by chance.
- Google will eventually find you, but may not take much notice of you. It’s a bit like joining an old fashioned club. When they first notice you, they make a note of you so they can ignore you. (They call this sandboxing.) If you keep showing up (ie if your site remains in place) they will eventually acknowledge you publicly. But they are unlikely to invite you to dine at the top table against any individual search until you’ve been there for some time, built up some real content, and generally done the things you need to do to ‘join the club’.
- If you have a new site, driving traffic is as important as building the site itself.
So how do you drive traffic to your new website?
If you are a small business / new small business only now launching a site, this is the single most important question for you to find an answer to. Finding the answer will give your site a chance of doing whatever it was you built it to do. Not finding the answer means you might as well have not built the site.
Start by adding the address of your site to the footer of your emails. You might even add ‘Need whatever it is you do? Visit our site at www.youraddress.com’
Next, email your site to everyone in your address book. Just send a two-line email that says you’ve launched a new site and would welcome their feedback.
That’s a start.
Then make sure that the site itself is doing everything it can to be found. Check that whoever has built it for you has given each page a search-friendly Title, as well as keyword and description meta tags. (You can Google all of this if you have no idea what I’m talking about.)
Next, invest a couple of hours in adding the address of your site to as many relevant online directories as you can. (Again, Google this if you don’t know what I mean.)
Next, start going regularly to some specialist forums and blogs, whose subjects are the same as yours, and set yourself up an identity so that you can post. Make sure to put your URL in the signature of the identity, so that every time you post a comment, view or piece of advice, your website address is displayed. (This has 2 benefits, in truth: one is simply that it may make someone interested in the subject click to your site; the other is that it creates a backlink, which search engines reward you for.)
What else can you do? Well it’s going to depend on your budget.
If you can afford to run a PPC advertising campaign (Google it if you’re not sure), then get that set up immediately. Get your keyterms and ad copy right and it will bring you visitors fast, though at a cost.
Then think about every other aspect of your business communications and whether it can be used to promote your site. You send out invoices? Add the website address. Same if you print receipts, hand out flyers, have a store window, awning or van livery.
If you have waitresses or sales assistants, train them to ask people politely if they’ve had a look at your new website yet, and give them a card or printed slip to hand over to customers who say no.
If you have suppliers who’d benefit from helping you, ask them to send an email about your website to their email lists. Ask customers to do the same if they like what you do.
Do not, on any account, sit back and wait for Google.
For the average small business, it’s not that much more likely than the Web Traffic Elf to do the hard work for you.